In January 2020 a discussion and presentation was made between Wolverhampton historian Jefny Ashcroft and Wolverhampton artist Joy Baines about an historical painting titled Nurse Brown from Jamaica by Birmingham-based artist, Irene Welburn, it was the featured subject at the fourth annual Wolverhampton Literature Festival from 31/01/20 to 02/02/20.
Artist Joy Baines and Jefny Ashcroft admire the painting of Nurse Brown 15th January 2020 The Voice
Little is known of who Nurse Brown is in the 1956 painting by the white artist Irene Welburn and the portrait’s young black subject may be the painter’s friend. The painting has thrown up many questions like, ‘Is Nurse Brown still alive? Where did she work? Is the gesture she is so clearly making, a Rastafarian symbol?’
For the Literature Festival presentation Ashcroft was notably joined by Joy Baines. These interactions also reminded everyone that Joy Baines is a ‘Tour de Force’ in the Back arts community. A name that should also be on every artist lovers lips, her work over the years has shown no compromise to her love of ‘Black beauty and form’. The interview for The Voice featured below was written in 2015.
British Artist Celebrates ‘Afrocentric Beauty’ In Exhibition
Joy Baines talks to The Voice about why she loves to paint the black form and how she recreates afro hair: Written by Rykesha Hudson
Like all artists, Joy Baines is inspired by the beautiful things around her. And to her, there’s nothing more beautiful than the black form.
“I don’t have a particular theme to my work apart from my love of celebrating afrocentric beauty – male or female,” the British born, Jamaican-raised artist tells The Voice:
I usually depict them as if they are in a state of grace; it is almost as if they are revelling in their own beauty and sense of self.
With two degrees under her belt – one in fine art sculpture and the other in fine art as social practice – Baines is inspired by human form, especially faces and afro hair.
I am particularly attracted to the richness of dark skin colour. I love the way that the light rests on the surface and reflects a myriad of hues; sienna, reds, yellow ochre, blues, bronze.
At times, the smoothness of the skin seems so polished that it’s almost unreal, like it has been fashioned from the finest mahogany wood or semi precious stone like melanite.
Baines, who is also a qualified art teacher adds:
“I love sculpting the features too, particularly the mouth because of the depth of detail that can be formed on smooth or textured lips.”
When it comes to creating afro hair, Baines enjoys experimenting with a range of materials to achieve kinky curls and thick dreadlocks.
“I’m in love with afro hair – short, long, curly,” she exclaims. “When I’m making the afro hairstyles, I sometimes make them out of punched card flowers, or use resin, sand, plaster, rhinestones, paper mâché, fabric, wool, felt or leather depending on the effect that I’m trying to achieve.
“For dreads, I use the same materials but fashion them differently – more linier.”
The creative adds:
“Plaits can be challenging to sculpt depending on the size, but I love depicting them.
“I like working into the surface of my pictures with a wide variety of techniques, such as stitching, burning, collage, splatter, frottage, printing, and embossing.”
First falling in love with art as a child, Baines explains that it was the work of the 19th Century group of artists, the Pre-Raphaelites that led to her allure of big hair.
“As a child, I fell in love with Pre-Raphaelite art, which depicted graceful women with masses of hair. I also love Benin and Ife sculptures, which are not only beautiful, but also exquisitely crafted.
“I’m sure that those images must have informed my work over time.”
And amongst her male influences was a certain sporting hero.
“Over time, my work consisted of predominantly male images, usually with dreads. At one point I was obsessed with Lennox Lewis!”
Throughout August, Baines is exhibiting her artwork in the gallery at Ward End Library in Birmingham. She usually shows and sells her smaller pictures in independent shops and themed art craft markets across the country, and also in three regular outlets in London.
Most of her customers who have bought the smaller pieces, often request to see the much larger works, so this new exhibition will be “an excellent opportunity to showcase them,” Baines says.
Keen to expand her clientele, the fine artist also runs an online boutique, ArtsFro, where she sells her afrocentric creations including jewellery, clothing, handbags, collectables and gifts.
See also @artsfro.joy.baines ArtsFro Fine Arts